There was food galore and plenty of laughs and memories as the Antrim United Methodist Church celebrated the 100 year anniversary of the basement addition to the church and the recently completed upgrade to the basement.

The basement was crowded and the food was good. About 60 or so members of the Antrim United Methodist Church gathered at the church Aug. 27 to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the addition of the basement to the church and the completion of the upgrade to the kitchen and the entire basement.

A few games of horseshoes got things rolling along with lots of visiting among family and friends. The new island with outlets in the kitchen was filled with main dishes and desserts. The former red piano, yes, it really was painted red before the remodel, is now a stark white and has been transformed into dessert bar by Joel Miller, said church member Virginia Russell who read a humorous history of the church. With some help from several members of the congregation, including Juan Munz and Larry Garner in ladies hats and aprons, everyone had a good laugh. Also helping with the skit were Darby and Quade Smith, Joyce Miller and Julie Christie, Dick and Marcia Smith.

The renovation took place in late spring and early summer of 2017. New lower kitchen cabinets are in place and the older upper cabinets were painted and all cabinets were given matching pulls. Two stoves were replaced with a new unit, upgraded HVAC was installed and concealed, there are new counter tops, new lighting, new flooring, the paneling has all been painted along with the ceiling and the entire basement is a much brighter place, said Reverend Nate Gift.

The addition of a basement in 1917 and the renovation in 2017 were both very much community projects. Other elements of the church were also made possible by members of the community. The circular stained glass Holy Spirit window in the sanctuary and the design of the chandelier in the hall were done by Roger Russell who recently passed away, Gift said.

The church used to have a bell but because of structural concerns, the bell was taken down and placed in a garden area in front of the church. One Sunday morning, when members of the congregation arrived for church, the bell was gone and no one has seen it since. Sometime in the 1960s, the water pump and bucket in the kitchen was replaced with a sink.

For all the improvements, the most important part of the church is the people. Gift doesn't get to spend much time with his Antrim congregation on Sunday morning because he has to preach in two other churches. He starts his Sunday at St. John at 8:45 a.m. then heads to Antrim for their 9:45 a.m. service then its off to Stafford for their 11 a.m. service. He has just a few minutes to visit with the Antrim congregation before he has to leave.

Pastoring for three churches is just a circumstance that happens when churches have been around for a long time and the towns are shrinking in size. It's a challenge to maintain a presence and keep an outreach going.

The Antrim congregation is very warm and inviting. While most of the congregation is local, a couple of families come from St. John and Pratt.

The basement fellowships are a key piece of DNA in the church. The renovation will help make it a more inviting atmosphere.

"The people are tremendously hospitable. The renovation reflects who these people are, not just for the congregation but for guests too," Gift said.

Church member Larry Garner, who is 74 years young, said the renovation was done because the church fellowship is the main thing at the church. He said the remodel is wonderful and everybody pitched in to make it look nice.

Marsha Shrack and husband Chris travel from Pratt to attend church. Marsha said the people at the church are the salt of the earth, they are really caring and inclusive and lively. The basement renovation was the result of a half dozen visions of people who really cared about the church.

Everybody pitched in from the oldest to the youngest. Before the renovation, the basement was dark and dank, like a dungeon. Now its a breath of fresh air, Shrack said.

Virginia Russell spearheaded the renovation. It took lots of time and effort got get the job done.

"Everybody pitched in. It was pretty amazing," Shrack said.

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